Rethinking the ban on selling in-game assets

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Should purchasing in-game assets from another player be prohibited as a cheat? The answer depends on who you ask.

Game editors will likely say that special gear, weapons, or outfits are made to be earned – exciting rewards for hours of hard work and participation in the game. The outright purchase of these assets, could they? say, wouldn’t be just cheating; that would be to betray the very spirit of the game.

On the surface, this is a logical argument (albeit a bit tight). But in their furious defense of the player experience, these critics ironically overlook player experience.

Think about Fortnite. Generally speaking, keeping a decent cosmetic collection takes hours of playtime and a sizable amount of money. Collecting rare skins can be difficult to the point of being impossible, as the game randomly awards cosmetics and limits proactive acquisition to Battle Pass earnings and V-Bucks purchases. Want a time-limited, event-specific asset? You better be at this event, or you might lose your chance forever.

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Some might argue that these limitations make in-game acquisitions more satisfying and rewarding. But their argument – that digital assets should be “rewards” for playing – fundamentally misses the prestige aspect of the collection. A Fortnite cosmetic inventory, like a real-world art collection, is not just a representation of how hard the collector worked to acquire certain items. Items themselves have value; To dismiss them as mere game prizes is to categorically deny that conservation is an essential part of the player experience.

Given all of this, it’s no surprise that players want to access digital assets through player-to-player exchanges. Earlier this year, a Fortnite News poll found that nearly three-quarters (73.5%) of gamers surveyed believed Epic Games should create an item trading platform. But they don’t have much hope – the investigative team concluded that despite the interest, Epic likely wouldn’t build a trading system as it could hurt V-Buck’s sales.

Epic’s financial motivation to avoid player-to-player exchanges is understandable; he wants to maintain his grip on the economy of Fortnite. However, in the absence of superior trading options, players rushed to the black market to buy digital assets. Fortnite accounts cost between $ 200 and $ 250 apiece; some can sell for thousands of dollars.

These trades pose a significant problem for Epic. In December, the publisher went so far as to tweet a reminder that buying and selling accounts is a suspended offense; those who participate in below-table trading could lose their stocks forever. Hacking is also a problem – according to a recent report by Night Lion Security, thousands of stolen Fortnite accounts are sold each year for a total of $ 1 billion.

Above: My DeFit Pet is a blockchain game in which players own assets.

Image Credit: My DeFit Animal

Still, the market demand for gaming assets is clearly there, as is the recognition by players of their value. Players spend an ungodly amount of effort and time building their collections. Shouldn’t they have the means to organize and trade without turning to – or worse, falling victim to – a dangerous black market?

Currently, the answer for most mainstream games seems to be a no. But on the fringes of the industry, DeFi developers may have found a way to facilitate curation and reward player efforts through blockchain-based games.

Blockchain-based games, or DeFi games, are games that use blockchain-based cryptography. As Adrian Krion described for the Nasdaq earlier this year: “DeFi mechanics allow blockchain games to provide players with different ways to make it worthwhile and earn rewards. This growing proliferation of monetary benefits is a point of growing interest.

In Fortnite, cosmetic assets have perceived offside value because players want them. In DeFi games, similar assets have intrinsic value as non-fungible tokens (NFT). Thus, players of blockchain-based games can reap real financial rewards by engaging in gambling and item custody.

“Collectible and trade-in games are among the most popular genres on the blockchain,” Krion pointed out, “in part because they allow players to buy, sell and trade unique tokens and assets. And with games increasingly creating and issuing their own native tokens, developers are essentially able to build their own economies and ecosystems, and connect with each other through them, in many cases even across all. platforms.

Of course, some might argue that DeFi games democratize the gaming economy at the expense of gaming itself. As Dr Serkan Toto, founder of an independent gambling consultancy, recently put the question to Reverse, “A lot of these games appear to be forced exercises in essentially trying to use blockchain and digital ownership and monetization.”

Historically speaking, he’s right. Consider CryptoKitties. In the game, players have the option to buy, breed and sell cats. But cats don’t really do it to do anything; they’re just loitering around the player screen looking (arguably) cute. As a result, gamers are faced with the reverse of the Fortnite collection issue: gamers can organize, but they can’t to play.

This problem is partly due to a disparity in the skills of DeFi developers. Game development and DeFi application development are separate and therefore require niche specific training. Asking a DeFi developer to make a fun blockchain-based game is a bit like asking a pastry chef to cook a main course; the result will be achievable, but it will probably not meet expectations.

But in recent years, blockchain-based game producers have started to find a more balanced foundation. When those of us at Kardia Chain started building the team for My DeFi Pet, for example, we specifically organized a 50/50 Developer Ratio – 50% DeFi Experts and 50% Game Developers. conventional.

Our intention with My DeFi Pet was to create a mass adoption blockchain game that balanced conventional gameplay with DeFi functionality. My DeFi Pet revolves around a set of play activities such as collecting, breeding, evolving, fighting and trading digital pets – it is real and playable game which enables key aspects of conventional gaming while allowing players to participate in its economy.

Of course, we’re far from the only team making balanced DeFi game development a priority. The management team behind Skyweaver, a collectible card game that allows players to own and trade cards in their digital deck as NFTs, expressed a similar perspective in an article earlier this year.

“First and foremost, you need to get rid of the friction so the player can just step into the game themselves,” said Michael Sanders, chief storyteller and co-founder of Skyweaver’s Horizon Blockchain Games studio. “Blockchain technology doesn’t make a whole lot of sense unless the game itself is enjoyable in the first place.”

Blockchain players and enthusiasts are at a crossroads. Now that blockchain-based games have started to prove that they are not just gamified investment platforms, we could see a boom in innovative games that blend gaming and economics.

Going forward, it’s reasonable to assume that emerging DeFi games will provide a balanced experience that addresses many of the issues inherent in conventional and blockchain-based games. These games will solve the CryptoKitties gameplay issue by incorporating conventional gaming features into the game – and solve Fortnite’s custody issue by facilitating secure and legitimate trading with blockchain-based technology.

Today’s gamers want to trade their in-game assets because they know, more than anyone, their true value. Isn’t it time for the gaming industry to recognize their point of view and allow them to do so?

It seems fair.

Tri Pham is the CEO of KardiaChain and My DeFi Pet.


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